William Lockwood
Tom Aikens' Fish & Chips.
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Editors’ Picks from the Past 25 Years

Food Arts Staff - January/February 2014

Food Arts has published thousands of recipes since its inception. Leafing through them from back issues to last month’s provides a snapshot of culinary history and changing tastes (dive in, Ph.D. candidates). Here, each member of the editorial staff selects a recipe that intrigues for any number of reasons. Come dine with us.

Beverly Stephen
executive editor

Soft Shell Crabs with Ramps & Lime Pickle
Executive Chef/Partner Rocco DiSpirito, Union Pacific, New York City, April 1999

Soft shell crabs are one of my favorite things; I’m practically standing there waiting with a sauté pan the minute their season arrives. But I started presenting them in a whole different way after seeing this 1999 recipe by Rocco DiSpirito, who was having a hottest-chef-in-town moment at Union Pacific. He had worked at Lespinasse under Gray Kunz, who played around with spices and techniques that seemed exotic at the time. Even ramps were not on everybody’s mind or menu. As it turned out, pickled ramps were the part of this recipe that caught my eye. This was long before chefs were pickling everything but the Brooklyn Bridge. Since then, I pickle the pungent bulbs as faithfully as I make and freeze pesto every year. Pickled ramps are just as effective a tart foil to a roasted pork loin or just about any meat or fish, for that matter, as they are for the soft shell crabs. And they’re very handy to have on hand in the back of the fridge.

Kelley McClain
managing editor

Executive Chef Daniel Boulud, Le Cirque, New York City, January/February 1990

During the late 1980s, Daniel Boulud was the golden boy exec chef of Le Cirque, wooing the ladies who lunch with les salades and the gourmands who indulge and spend with elevated versions of dishes from the canon of la cuisine bourgeoise. Witness his take on cold-chasing pot-au-feu, which appeared in the January/February 1990 issue of Food Arts—the first issue I worked on from start to finish. This hearty dish is cause for celebration, as it’s done during the festival called La Fête de la Pot Bouillé in Savigne-L’Eveque, not far from Le Mans, in northwestern France. Boulud’s sophisticated triple-pot interpretation intrigues me as much for its cultural significance as for its layers of classic French technique.

Jim Poris
senior editor

Braised Apple-Fed Pork with Leeks & Sweet Spices in Hard Cider
Chef/Co-Owner Wayne Nish, March, New York City, July/August 1999

This was how I wanted to spend a cold Sunday last month: drive out to the shale mountains and rugged farmland of Sussex County, New Jersey, to cut down a tree (concolor fir) for Christmas, haul it back home; stack firewood on the porch; build a fire; settle into my big easy chair by late afternoon to close my eyes to another desulatory performance by the New York Giants. And I wanted to fill the house with warm scents. I had a chunk of pork shoulder from Kim Wells up at East Meadow Farm in Williamstown, Massachusetts, a goodly amount of leeks a farmer yanked before the ground froze over, apples, yes, and an accumulation of hard cider that had backed up in the fridge. The solution: this 1999 recipe by Wayne Nish of March, a winter warmer if there ever were one. Some sweet potato fries, a maple-tinged ale from Quebec, and I forgot that the Giants had lost again. See, there’s a silver lining to every season.

Meunière-Style Abalone with Seaweed Persillade
Chef/Owner David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, California, October 2010

As the editor who has chosen, solicited, organized, and edited every recipe in the magazine for some 18 years, I’m pulling rank—I get to select two recipes as favorites. (Reality is, they’re all favorites, even the ones that get cut for lack of space. They’re like children—hate to see them leave.) This one, by David Kinch of Manresa, summarizes the mash-up of strands woven into modernism: hyper-local ingredients (abalone, seaweed), technique servicing flavor (pressure cooking), foreign adaptions (dashi), and classicism (meunière preparation). Plus, from one surfer dude to another, Kinch throws flavors that hit like a bracing wave slap. With this dish, I’m shacked.

Gary Tucker
senior editor

Fish & Chips
Chef/Owner Tom Aikens, Restaurant Tom Aikens and Tom’s Kitchen, London, March 2009

While we were working on our March 2009 issue, I was taken in by “Stars Get in the Fry,” Andy Lynes’ feature story on fish-and-chips as only the Brits can do it, mainly because I love the dish and yet hadn’t perfected its technique. It’s the batter that bedevils me. I’ve tried many different recipes, including some that contain beer and seltzer. I remember my chef/instructor at The French Culinary Institute (now The International Culinary Center) emphasizing the yeast element in the composition of beer that allows a lighter, more flavorful result. Tom Aikens’ recipe seemed like the Platonic ideal of ingredients: high-gluten bread flour, fine sea salt, lager, and sparkling mineral water. How could you go wrong? But it was only while watching a cooking segment on television, in which a chef gently laid a battered fish fillet into the hot oil, saying, “Hold the fish at the surface of the oil for a bit, then lower it into the pan,” that I realized that’s how to prevent it from dropping to the bottom of the pan and sticking to it.

Jacqueline Sainsbury
manager, Food Arts online

“Cappuccino” of Fava Beans with Mint Foam
Chef/Co-Owner Ferran Adrià, elBulli, Roses, Spain, October 1997

As dated and overplayed as this dish seems today, it may take one of the top posts for landmark recipes. When it was published in the October 1997 issue, the accompanying story (“Foam, Foam on the Range”) presented Ferran Adrià to an American audience for the very first time. The once ubiquitous espuma had, at that time, only washed up on the shores of America in one kitchen by that August. What a future a fortune teller would have seen, should one have gazed into the opalescent bubbles of Adrià’s brainchild a decade and a half ago...

Abbe Lewis
associate editor

Ode to the Whatchamacallit
Chef/Owner Mindy Segal, HotChocolate, Chicago, May 2009

I’m no pastry pro. In fact, my anxiety rises at the mere thought of baking a simple three-layer cake. However, Mindy Segal’s ode to my favorite childhood candy bar—the Whatchamacallit—brings me great elation and glee, as I used to buy the chocolate/caramel snack with its catchy ’80s jingle by the case. (It’s a good thing I was heavily involved in sports!)